Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze - Part II

HELLOOOOO?? Is there anyone out there? Oh well, I guess it's just me and my food now.... but if you are reading please leave a comment... pretty please?

Today was day two of Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze.

The first thing I did was put the chive oil that I made yesterday through a cheesecloth to get it nice and smooth:

Then, it was time to make my Brunoise. A Brunoise is basically just a very small dice of a mix of vegetables. This on included leeks, carrots and turnips. Each vegetable is cut into a 1/16" dice, which would have been tedious and time-consuming without the help of my trusty mandoline slicer. With it though, I have to say I really look like I know what I'm doing (I really don't):

Once the vegetables are diced, they are then blanched separately until just soft, cooled, and then mixed all together. The Brunoise looks something like this:

Next, I dealt with the rest of my prep and cut my tomatoes into diamonds, and dressed my baby arugula with lemon and olive oil:

After two days of prep it was finally time to put this bad boy together!! The salmon went into a milk bath at 115 degrees for 7 minutes:

Doesn't it look comfy?

While the salmon was getting nice and warm, I sauteed my gnocchi from yesterday in canola oil until they were just brown on the bottom:

To the gnocchi I added some homemade chicken stock, butter, and a splash of white wine vinegar. Once it had reduced, I added some of my Brunoise, the tomato diamonds and some freshly chopped chives.

Time to plate!!!

How does it look? Not bad! And it tasted even better. The milk really took out some of the saltiness of the fish and gave it a delicious, flaky texture. My first attempt at gnocchi were also a success - they were little pillows of heaven. Add into that the sweet balsamic glaze and the bitterness of the arugula - PERFECTION.

Upcoming on Thursday - Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Leeks, Pommes Maxim and Red Beet Essence.

Food Sources:
Smoked Salmon and Produce: Fresh Direct
Grocery Items: MET, Brooklyn, NY

Monday, September 28, 2009

Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze - Part I

This recipe has a lot of steps so I decided to do it in two parts. Today, I made the potato gnocchi and started the chive oil.

I'd like to start out by saying that I am by no means a gnocchi expert. In fact, the last time I made them was at least 10 years ago, and it was with my Mom, who has much more experience. That being said, I think I did a pretty good job!! Sure, more than half of them came out looking slightly deformed, but for a first try, that ain't bad.

To make the gnocchi, i first baked three russet potatoes in the oven until they were cooked through. They came out of the oven and I cut them in half:

While they were still hot, I scooped the flesh out of the potatoes and put it through a ricer onto my countertop. I made a well in the middle into which I put the egg yolks, flour and salt:

Then, using my dough scraper, I quickly chopped the ingredients into a single cohesive ball:

From there, I broke off pieces of dough and rolled them into a long 'snake':

Using my dough scraper, I cut the 'snake' into pillow-shaped pieces:

Then, I rolled the pillows into balls:

And finally(!!) rolled them gently over the back of a fork to get the gnocchi shape:

From there it was into the boiling water until they floated to the top and then a dip in an ice bath to quickly stop the cooking. In the end, they looked like this:

What do you think?! Not bad for my first (solo) try!

So now that I spent 4 hours making almost 200 gnocchi, it was time to make the chive oil.

I took one cup of chopped chives and put them into a blender, covered them with canola oil, and then blended it for 5 minutes until smooth. Into a Tupperware to deepen the color overnight:

See ya'll tomorrow for Part II!

Food Sources:
Specialty Cookware - A Cook's Companion, Brooklyn, NY
Grocery Items - MET, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gruyere Cheese Gougeres


But.... during halftime I made some awesome snacks - Gruyere Cheese Gougeres.

This was my mise en place for this dish:

First, I put the butter in a saucepan along with water, salt and a bit of sugar. I let the mixture come to a boil and then added the flour. Then, I stirred the mixture in the pan for about 2 minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. I put the resulting product into my stand mixer, added the eggs, blended until it was smooth in texture, and then mixed in the Gruyere and salt and white pepper to taste:

The next step was to pipe the mixture onto the Silpat:

... and then sprinkle with some more Gruyere Cheese:

Then the gougeres went into a 450 degree oven for about 7 minutes. I reduced the heat to 350 degrees and after 20 minutes, I got these:

The finished result on a plate:

**victory dance**

These gougeres were perfectly puffy, moist on the inside and deliciously salty.... They took almost no time at all to prepare... and even less time to scarf down after halftime.

Food Sources:
Cookware: A Cook's Companion, Brooklyn, NY
Cheese: Stinky Cheese, Brooklyn, NY
Other Dairy: Trader Joe's

Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisps with Goat Cheese Mousse

Are you ready for some football???

It's the end of the first half and the J-E-T-S are up 14-10 over the Titans. Good start to this Sunday.

Today, I started with the Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisps with Goat Cheese Mousse... and away we go!!

This is my first food post. I've decided that I will always start these with a photo of my 'mise en place' - my prep setup for cooking. I'd love to give you all the actual recipes, but I doubt TK and the rest of the FL team would appreciate me posting them for free ;) ... Here's a photo of what I used:

First, I put the goat cheese in the food processor and creamed it until it looked like this:

Then, I added the parsley, salt and pepper and pulsed the mixture in the food processor:

I took the mouse out and put it into the refrigerator while I worked on the next step.

The next step was to make the parmigiano-reggiano crisps. I took the finely grated cheese and spooned it into a 2.5" ring mold onto my Silpat, repeated this 8 times and had this result before throwing it into the oven:

After 8 minutes, my cheese was brown and beautiful! SCORE!

Now it was time for the hard part... Forming the extremely hot cheese into something that actually looks nice.. I let them rest for about 10 seconds to get nice and firm (bow chica bow bow), and then peeled them one at a time VERY CAREFULLY off of the silpat. One at a time, I placed them into an empty egg carton and put an egg onto them to form a tulip shape. The trick here was to do this while they were still hot and formable. If I waited too long, they would have set and become extremely fragile.. In fact, I dropped one on the ground and it literally shattered. YIKES. Here's what they looked like in the egg carton:

After about 5 minutes setting in the cartons, I took the shells out and they looked like this:

A quick piping of the goat cheese mousse from my pastry bag into the crisp and you get the final product.... WOW:

These were delicious! Creamy, salty and crunchy at the same time, oh yes. I would definitely make them again.

Food Sources:
Bakeware - A Cook's Companion, Brooklyn, NY
Cheese - Stinky Cheese, Brooklyn, NY
Grocery - MET Foods, Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Game Plan

Yikes!! It's been quite awhile since my first post.... oops. The truth is, I didn't want to spring for the shipping cost on the cookbook, so it took more than a week for it to come from amazon.com. I got the book on Wednesday and have been trying to wrap my head around it ever since -- quite a daunting task.
100 major recipes, dozens of minor recipes (stocks, salts, syrups, etc., etc.,etc.)...

First - I freaked out.
Then - I made an Excel spreadsheet to get organized (no comments please).

All of Thomas Keller's food is extraordinarily seasonal. Some of the recipes in this book can literally be made for about 2 weeks out of the year, so it was important that I make a plan of action. It took me about two days but I am DONE! And ready to get started. I've decided to start out with a couple of the simpler dishes, and then move on to some of the more complicated and challenging (butchering a pig's head??) ones. Unfortunately, some of the dishes that I'm most excited about are also ridiculously expensive to make and include some of my favorite ingredients -- foie gras, beluga caviar, white truffles!!! **dies**

Anyywaayyy... tomorrow is Sunday which means FOOTBALL! I'll be making two of the 'snackier' items: Gruyere Gougeres and Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisps with Goat Cheese Mousse. Do you think the mousse would look unappetizing if I dyed it green? Go Jets!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Well.... after almost five months of being laid off, the monotony is finally getting to me. It is going to sound corny (and lame), but after seeing the movie Julie and Julia, I suddenly had the inspiration to do something different! Aren't I just so creative? Not really. But, I am excited to embark on the adventure that is The French Laundry Cookbook.

For those of you that are wondering what the heck The French Laundry (forever to be known now as 'FL') is.... a little background. FL is one of the greatest restaurants in the world, and is owned and 'cheffed' by one of the most prolific and talented chefs in the universe, Thomas Keller. Mr. Keller also owns Per Se in NYC, as well as a myriad of other fantastically tasty establishments. I had the pleasure of eating at FL in May of 2008, followed by Per Se in June of 2008.... it was a very good couple of months to say the least. If you haven't experienced the genius that is Thomas Keller's food, you MUST get to one of his restaurants at least once in your life.

So anyway, back to the adventure. I ordered The FL Cookbook yesterday from Amazon.com and am anxiously awaiting its arrival... I have read through some of the recipes but am not sure where I will start yet... but.... I plan to get through each of the recipes before it gets too hot again in my kitchen to cook anything. That gives me approximately 7 months, maybe 8 if the weather (and my wallet) hold up. I'll be posting a blog entry about each of the dishes in the book - I know you (hypothetical 'you' - is anyone really going to read this?) are waiting on pins and needles. See you all soon!